Uncategorized

Economic lessons from Japan: enhance the social safety net now

Imagine relying on your employer for housing as a critical part of your benefits package — and then facing layoffs amidst mounting national unemployment.

Koji Hirano and other Canon workers don’t have to imagine. The topic of a chilling New York Times story over the weekend, Hirano and other workers digital camera plant were told their services were no longer required. Given the meager cash reserves many Canon workers had on hand, losing that job and the attendant benefits would result in near-certain homelessness. “They were going to kick us out into the winter cold to die,” Hirano told the Times.

That’s not all:

To make matters worse, they can expect little in the way of unemployment or welfare benefits. In Japan, a country with little experience of widespread unemployment until recently, there is an inadequate safety net for laid-off workers.

I’ve written before about the lessons America can learn from Japan’s economic experience of the last two decades. In a nutshell: act fast on economic stimulus, invest in the real economy, and resist the disaster called deregulation.

This story highlights another essential lesson: when hard times loom, plan accordingly. Don’t let hard-working people be cast out in the street. Fund unemployment insurance, food stamps and other public benefits that will stimulate the economy — but more importantly, will take care of people in time of crisis.

Economies aren’t just about numbers. They’re about real people, and the real human consequences of economic dislocation. It’s easy to get numb when you see headlines about 10s of thousands of jobs being lost, to get bogged down in the sheer size of that statistic. But it’s important to remember that every job loss has a human story.

Not everyone who loses their job is going to have a story like Koji Hirano’s. Some will, though, and one story like that is one too many.

Check Also

From Oregon to Wounded Knee

In my home state of Oregon, a group ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement refuses to disclose any details of probe into alle [...]

Senate favors form of merit selection for judges as alternative to House judicial redistricting bill [...]

North Carolinians hoping to find out who’s been funding Rep. Justin Burr’s crusade this legislative [...]

The SePro Corporation is receiving as much as $1.3 million in taxpayer money to chemically kill the [...]

Lawmakers to return to Raleigh yet again; agenda may include dangerous “de-reg” proposal The North C [...]

The three federal judges could have just come right out and said it: The Republicans who rule the N. [...]

3---number of states that adopted new state Earned Income Tax Credits in 2017---Montana, Hawaii, and [...]

The post Total Eclipse (of Democracy) appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more